Since 1973, San Jose Taiko (SJT) has been mesmerizing audiences with the powerful, spellbinding, and propulsive sounds of the taiko. Inspired by traditional Japanese drumming, SJT performers express the beauty and harmony of the human spirit through the voice of the taiko as they strive to create new dimensions in Asian American movement and music.
Continuing the core values of founding directors and National Endowment for the Arts 2011 National Heritage Fellows, Roy & PJ Hirabayashi, San Jose Taiko performance and expression are predicated upon a profound respect for each member of the group. The spirit and essence of both rehearsal and performance require physical endurance, with running and exercise required of all members during practice sessions. All compositions performed by SJT are written or arranged by members of the group. Composing, choreographing, designing and producing costumes, and handcrafting of the drums are part of the holistic process in which all members participate. Through this singleness of mind and spirit, harmony is achieved and the music rings with unity and clarity.
SJT has broadened this historical art form into a style that joins the traditional rhythms of Japanese drumming with other world rhythms, including African, Brazilian, Filipino, Latin, and jazz, bridging many styles, while still resonating with the Asian soul in America. Company members study both traditional and contemporary dance with leading choreographers, producing performances that are theatrical extravaganzas of movement and music.
Since 1987, when SJT became one of the first American taiko ensembles invited to tour Japan, the company has collaborated in joint concerts with internationally renowned Asian performing artists including Kodo, Ondekoza, Eitetsu Hayashi, Michiko Akao, Oedo Sukeroku, Osuwa Taiko, and Miyarabi Taiko. SJT has also collaborated with artists from other disciplines, including the Bangerz, Brenda Wong Aoki, Mark Izu, Kenny Endo, Eth-Noh-Tec, American Conservatory Theater, George Coates Performance Works, San Jose Repertory Theatre, The San Jose Museum of Art, Abhinaya Dance Company, Hiroshima, Jon Jang, Keith Terry and Crosspulse, Anthony Brown, Marco Lienhard, Qi-Chao Liu, PressGang, and Michael Sasaki.
SJT has been recognized for its artistic and managerial excellence by the Advancement Program from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Multicultural Advancement Program from the California Arts Council, Meet The Composer International Creative Collaborations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the Chevron Award for Excellence. In 1994, SJT was honored by the Arts Council of Santa Clara County with a commendation for community leadership for its efforts to foster cultural and ethnic diversity in the arts.